Review: The Flash #56

[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]

Writer: Joshua Williamson

Artist: Scott Kolins

Colours: Luis Guerrero

Letters: Steve Wands

Reviewed By: Derek McNeil



Things are about to get hot—very hot!—when Flash has to battle fire monsters generated by his longtime nemesis, Heat Wave. Unfortunately, the pilot light blew out in Mick Rory’s head, because he’s comatose from the effects of the Sage Force! How can the Scarlet Speedster reach his old frenemy and get him to put out the fire monsters? Looks like Commander Cold takes a demotion…so he can pretend to be Captain Cold and talk Heat Wave down!



I really like the unique use of these new forces. A more obvious choice of a Flash villain for the Sage Force to be attracted to might be Grodd, amping up his telepathy and telekinesis. But Williamson has instead chosen Heat Wave, keeping Mick Rory in a dream state while it manifests Fire Monsters in the physical world.

But some part of Mick has pulled the Flash and Detective Burns into this dream reality, with the hope that they could rescue him from the Sage Force. This is because Detective Burns was one of the few people to ever show him any compassion, and because he knows that he can count on the Flash to help him, despite their being foes.

I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, but the Detective’s name (Burns) is oddly appropriate for someone who Heatwave feels a connection to. And I suspect it’s entirely a coincidence that the two people Heatwave has pulled into his dream are named Burns and Allen (Google it if you don’t get the reference, youngsters), but I found it amusing.

Fittingly, interacting with Heatwave and the Sage Force seems to be prompting a bit more thought than usual. Barry notices that the burnt bodies don’t look right, he properly deduces that Heatwave, who doesn’t stick around after lighting his fires, doesn’t know what burnt human remains actually look like. So, Barry the CSI realizes he’s looking at Mick’s idea of what they should look like, which leads Barry to conclude that they’re in a dreamlike state created by Heatwave’s mind.

Also, Barry starts properly thinking out how to deal with the new Forces. Prodded by Detective Burns, he realize that instead of being afraid to leave Central City unguarded, he should be following the lead he was given about the Forces, referring to Fastback of the Zoo Crew’s advice that he should go on a Force Quest.

In the physical world, Commander Cold comes to the rescue, defeating the Sage Force’s fire monsters. Then he takes the unconscious trio back to his apartment to use his future technology to help them. Though Cold and Barry don’t directly interact in this issue, it seems that they are gradually coming closer to making a good crime-fighting team. But will this partnership follow the path of Barry’s previous partnerships?

I must add that I find Scott Kolins art suits the Flash beautifully. Kolins deftly captures Barry’s super speed, with the kinetic energy crackling off the page. And his depiction of the Flash’s costume is particularly noteworthy. The New 52 version of the outfit is overly busy, but Kolins manages to evoke the beautiful simplicity of the classic look while staying true to the new design.


It’s a bit annoying after seeing Barry’s ghastly vision of Wally last issue, and not seeing any follow-up this issue – especially knowing what happened in Heroes In Crisis #1. However, I can see that it would be nearly impossible to work into this issue – and he may have his hands somewhat tied about what he can reveal. But, I hope Williamson doesn’t take too long until coming back to why Barry saw this apparition.



After the burst of optimism from Rebirth, it seems that the DCU is entering a dark phase. But this provides much fodder for Williamson to create great stories around Barry’s struggle between hope and darkness. The Flash is a title that continues to maintain the high bar of quality that fans have come to expect of DC since Rebirth.

Derek McNeil

I have been an avid reader of DC Comics since the early 70s. My earliest exposure was to Batman and Superman comics, Batman (Adam West) reruns, and watching the Super-Friends every Saturday morning.